Purpose - The current study provides a literature review on secrecy as mechanism for appropriating value from innovation. It synthesizes previous findings into a framework that can explain the advantages of exercising secrecy versus patenting. It also examines the management lifecycle of secrecy. Design/methodology/approach - It takes a dynamic perspective and suggests a four-stage secrecy management lifecycle: creation of secret, installation of preventive mechanisms, protection and exploitation, and minimization of leakage. Findings - Based on the four stages, the study highlights under-researched areas, and develops a future research agenda for secrecy management. Originality/value - Despite the managerial and academic relevance of this topic, extant research does not offer a comprehensive framework for the concept of secrecy. This study provides a dynamic perspective to highlight the important aspects of secrecy management during the lifecycle of secrets. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.